Favorite Media Interviews and Mentions
Sam E. Antar, the one-time chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie, drew nervous laughter with his cheerful description of the discount chain’s massive fraud. He then won applause with a blunt dismissal of government legal efforts against more recent Wall Street malefactors.
Audience questions centered on exactly that, the recent investment frauds that caused the Great Recession, a subject the regulators treated cautiously.
So Antar had the room buzzing when he challenged law enforcement participants, “Name one person from Wall Street who’s sitting in jail because of the financial crisis.” Nobody responded. Antar suggested the government’s commitment to policing the financial markets has diminished since the inadvertent fall of his family’s criminal enterprise.
“There were 58 percent fewer FBI referrals to prosecutors from securities investigations than in 1993, when I was sitting in court” as a cooperating witness against relatives and associates, said Antar, now a fraud investigator and frequent television guest….
Sam Antar says white-collar criminals don’t carry guns. They’re not needed. In many cases, all they require is a smile, Antar told business students and faculty Nov. 10 at the University of Northern Iowa.
“You’d think they’re a nice guy,” he said when asked about the modus operandi of fraudsters. “You can’t be a liar if you’re a creep. One of the things I teach students is white-collar crime is a crime of persuasion. If you’re creepy, you can’t lie to somebody. You have to be likeable.
“Want to trust audited numbers? I used to brag about them all the time,” said Sam E. Antar, former CFO of Crazy Eddie, the electronics chain that became a symbol for corporate fraud in the 1980s.
The U.S. government is losing the war against white collar crime.
That’s the message from Sam E. Antar, one of the masterminds of the massive Crazy Eddie fraud of the 1980s.
“We are in the golden era of white-collar crime. My biggest regret is I should’ve been a criminal today rather than 20 years ago,” Antar told CNNMoney on the sidelines of a New Jersey securities fraud summit.
Antar drew a big round of applause when he pointed out that no one from Wall Street went to prison because of crimes that led to the financial crisis.
“We are devoting far less resources to combating crooks like myself today than back in my day,” he said.
PISCATAWAY – Attendees at a “Safe Investing” Summit on Thursday, November 13 will hear directly from the convicted CFO of Crazy Eddie, Inc., the former Federal prosecutor in the “Wolf of Wall Street” case, and others, on how some of the most prominent investment fraud cases worked – and how New Jersey investors can protect themselves and their hard-earned money against fraud.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Former “Crazy Eddie” CFO Sam Antar will participate in a summit Thursday at the Rutgers University Piscataway campus aimed at schooling investors on how to protect their hard-earned money against frauds like the one he once pulled.
For all his rough charm, Belfort may never quite redeem himself as effectively as fellow former convicts including financier Michael Milken, now a respected philanthropist, or Sam Antar, the former CFO of the Crazy Eddie’s electronics chain, who helps prosecutors and business leaders spot the kind of white-collar crimes he used to commit.
Portrait of a criminal: Sam Antars life is a gangster movie worthy. He was trained to corporate crime, and along with his cousin in the company Crazy Eddie cheated and swindled his billions. Lies, infidelity and manipulation destroyed the company, but after 18 years took Antar screw ’em all – and he has no regrets.
MarketWatch: What’s the takeaway from your experience?
Antar: Don’t trust, just verify. I’m not saying trust is a bad trait. Trust is an admirable trait, but it’s also hazardous. I do forensic accounting presentations. The ethical foundation of our society is based on trust and legal basis of our society is based on the presumption of innocence. The inclination to trust and the presumption of innocence gives the fraudster the initial benefit of any doubt while they are free to plan and execute their crimes.
Using social media can be fun. For example, I had a nice Twitter discussion with Sam Antar from Crazy Eddie notoriety. I know I’m dating myself, but Sam Antar is the closest thing to an accounting celebrity. Look him up and you’ll see why I consider him a celebrity. But I digress.
As Crazy Eddie’s Sam Antar told me, “When you walk into a courtroom to be sentenced, none of those letters to the judge matter about how good a person you are, how great a parent you have been, none of it matters. What matters are those letters about your cooperation with the FBI and the Prosecutors.
Sam Antar insists that it is not too late for Martoma. “When I finally came to the government in 1989, the U.S. government did not even want to talk to me. They basically showed me the door,” he said. “From March 1989-November 1991 I cooperated without the benefit of any plea agreement what so ever. Everything I said to them could and would be used against me. I finally pleaded guilty to two felonies in 1991 and my cousin Eddie fled the country (to Israel) by that time.”
So how did this work out for Antar? ” I was the main witness in the criminal case against Crazy Eddie and his family members and I was also the main witness in the civil cases brought by the SEC and the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit. For my efforts I was rewarded with 6 months house arrest, 1,200 hours of community service, $30,000 in fines and penalties, and a complete walk on all other civil liabilities. Period. A complete walk.” Not a bad deal for a guy who invented the Panama Pump (a money laundering scheme).
Rumors out there are that Martoma is willing to go to jail and keep quiet in exchange for payments from Cohen. So I asked Antar if he would you go to jail for anyone. He told me, “ Never.”
Convicted felon Sam E. Antar says stock-picking — trusting in people and numbers you can’t directly verify — sets you up as a mark for the unscrupulous. Antar was the chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie, Inc., an electronics chain led by Sam’s cousin, Eddie Antar. The chain collapsed under the weight of its fraud in 1989. “Investors live on hope and it’s the criminal’s job to take advantage of that hope,” Antar says.
The fact that he got caught is no consolation, Antar says. Regulators and investigative reporters have been losing the resources to uncover fraud. He points out, correctly, that the number of FBI white-collar crime prosecutions has fallen by half since the 1990s.
He was good friends with another criminal I had come to know well, Sam Antar. Antar is the former chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie, the electronics store chain that became another infamous book-cooking scandal of the 1980s.
Unlike Minkow, Antar does not believe that redemption is possible. He never claimed to have reformed. He will say only that he is in remission and could turn back to his crime-loving nature at any time. To his credit, though, he has been in remission for decades, and speaks truth however painful it may be.
Antar believed that Minkow was in a similar state of remission. “He had me fooled,” he said in a recent telephone interview.
Antar blogs and lectures on white-collar crime. He consults with law enforcement agencies, as well. He posted a story on Minkow’s guilty plea on his Facebook page with this comment: “Memo to my former friend Barry Minkow: You are a dumbass.”
Unlike Minkow, Antar hasn’t blown his second chance. But he says Minkow may one day get a third chance. “The next time he gets out of prison, I think he’ll be a Buddhist,” Antar said.